It felt so good. Her joy flew out of her and swirled around me like a bird, lightening and brightening my heart.
At that time, I made a conscious choice to let my voice show what I was feeling when my dear friends and family called. I had forgotten all about that choice, which is now a part of my everyday life, until a few days ago when my friend called and commented how much she liked hearing me greet her when I found out it was her on the phone. She felt loved and appreciated.
Maybe it was because of this recent conversation that I was so disconcerted when I called a friend’s father’s house to get his new cell number. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a flatter voice more devoid of any life. I have spoken to his father before over the years and he always has sounded the same.
In something as simple as that, the sound of a voice, I can get a sense of his father’s wounding, and a sense of the wounding my friend is carrying around. My heart rose in compassion for him, to have had to face that take on life day in and day out as a small child, as a teenager and into adulthood.
We all have our woundings. And we all have places of joy inside of us, even in those times when we may have to consciously dig deeply to find them. My mother was dying, for gosh sake, with a painful kind of cancer, but still she spontaneously and without any forethought found her joy and brought it out to play.
Words are so powerful…sound and emotion even more so. If there’s anything I can do, even something as simple as making a conscious choice to allow my joy and vulnerability into my voice, something that can be a momentary salve for someone’s wounding, well…my heart yearns to do that. Best of all, it’s not only free, it actually gives my own heart a warm gift in the process.
I Choose Joy
There was another time, even longer ago, when I was first learning to be the observer of my own self, that I consciously chose Joy.
I had slowly begun to notice that there were many thoughts in my head about other people. Some of those thoughts were about what those people were doing “wrong,” and some were about what they were doing “right.”
I noticed that I spent much more time mulling over what they were doing “wrong” than what they were doing “right.” In addition, I wanted to make sure they knew what they were doing “wrong” so they could “fix” it. I just couldn’t understand why they didn’t seem to appreciate this “help.”
And then I began to notice I had a certain reticence to share what I thought they were doing “right.” It didn’t seem nearly as relevant and deserving of being discussed as what was “wrong.”
Thankfully, as I noticed my stinginess around sharing the lovely complimentary thoughts about people that circled inside my head, one day, through Grace, I made a choice to let them out, to let them escape their imprisonment, even if it was socially inappropriate.
Yesterday I was in a doctor’s office. A new receptionist was there. As she handled the billing, having nothing else to do, I studied her face. What beautiful eyebrows she had. Then I noticed she had really pretty lips as well, a lovely full shape to her whole face, and really was a radiant being altogether.
When she made some comment about her square jaw, then I shared with her how I had noticed all this beauty in her. She was thrilled. She said, “You just made my day.”
And the truth is, I met her there in her joy, in my own joy, and it made my day too…so much so, I am moved to share this story with you.
So when I point out what’s wrong, in a very misguided attempt to “help,” which was my natural inclination, given the way I was raised, I feel contracted. It’s a self poisoning, really, a cutting off of the flow of life, and drags the other person down with me.
This was the model for me as a small child and formed a strong pattern. Even though I am constantly vigilant, some recurrences still sneak past.
You may find this dynamic in yourself, or another dynamic that contracts your energy and that of those around you. We all have some misguided behaviors adopted long ago as a child to keep us safe. It doesn’t matter what the dynamic was; it matters what choices you are making today.
And now I know I want to choose joy. I want to generously share every good thought that arises in my head. Why miss even one opportunity? I can’t even count how many people have said, “You just made my day,” and I felt such joy from such a small sincere action.
I invite you to share your own joy. You may start small, as I did, with a compliment that was floating in your head anyway, and find your own joy rise with it, or it may come flooding in.
What better time than the holidays, when you are with people who you love, friends and family, some of whom may push your buttons…what better time to choose Joy?
I Choose Joy (7.5 min. Meditation)
A guided imagery mediation with Cari Alter. Come explore how to bring up your inner joy in challenging situations.
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